Although I am sure we did more than eat, sleep and walk for seven days it is those three things that spring to mind as soon as I start writing my daily entry. Along with the toilet they were also the things we spent most of our time talking about.
There is no gentle start to day 2. The trail immediately steepened and narrowed as we left Machame Hut. Choked with climbers, guides and porters balancing improbable loads on their heads the tranquility of yesterday afternoon was soon forgotten.
We soon met other trekking groups who were to become our regular companions over the coming week. A group of eight South Africans, twenty something Swedes and countless other nationalities, all with our eyes fixed on Kibo. At this stage the banter was still gentle, although Ron did have to be restrained gently.
Almost as soon as we started climbing the flora changed to a mix of Ericas, everlastings and heaters. A sign that we were quickly gaining height. The thinning vegetation and clear morning skies opened up the views, Kibo loomed ahead, and for the first time we could truly appreciate the scale of the task ahead of us. Things got quiet for a little while!
The steep climb soon led to a fantastic view point and a special treat was waiting for us just over the next rise. The mess & toilet tent complete with tables, chairs and tablecloth were all waiting for us. But wait, it gets better, soup was followed by freshly cooked fish and chips. Almost enough to bing a tear to the eye!
Thankfully my clients on Ben Nevis don’t expect the same level of service. A squashed sandwich will normally do!
With bursting bellies we continued to climb through the afternoon mist towards Shira Camp. The thinner air was starting to tell. Shortness of breath, the occasional headache and mild nausea were just a few of the complaints mentioned as we neared Shira Camp.
The sight that greeted us on arrival at Shira Camp brought home the sheer scale of the business of getting climbers to the summit of Kilimanjaro. The sea of tents spread out over a vast open campsite highlighted the vast volume of climbers, porters, food and gear moving up the trail.
There is currently no limit on the number of climbers using the Machame Route each day. Despite the high permit fees the number attempting Kilimanjaro continues to rise. I only hope that KINAPA will choose to restrict numbers in the near future in order to preserve the mountain, tracks and ecology for future generations as the current numbers are simply unsustainable.
Right, Rant Over!
Despite its dusty sprawling nature Shira Camp enjoys a splendid view over the remains of the Shira Plateau and jagged peaks of the Shira Peak, the remains of the first volcanic eruptions that created Kilimanjaro.
In the early evening we enjoyed a walk over to Shira 1 camp, all in the name of acclimatization of course. Shira 1 camp is located on the Lemosho and Shira routes and boasts a very smart looking toilet block. All three routes combine 30 minutes after leaving camp.
As the sun sank into Mount Meru we headed to the mess tent for the customary session of scoffing and piss taking.
A very cold night followed, with thick frost coating the inside of our tent. I continued to irritate my tent mate Tony by sleeping like a log whilst he tossed and turned all night.